President Putin has signed a law under which foreign media organizations can be classified as “foreign agents.” Russian officials have indicated that, under this law, even more restrictions may be placed on the BBG’s networks, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA), and their services, including the Current Time television and digital network.
RFE/RL, VOA, and the other networks of U.S. international media will remain committed to our mission, stipulated by U.S. law, to provide accurate, objective, and comprehensive journalism and other content to our global audiences, including in the Russian Federation.
We will study carefully all communications we may receive from Russian authorities concerning our operations. While we will not speculate as to the effect that any new steps by the Russian government will have on our journalistic work, any characterization of such steps as reciprocity for U.S. actions severely distorts reality. Russian media, including RT and Sputnik, are free to operate in the United States and can be, and are, carried by U.S. cable television outlets and FM radio stations. However, U.S international media, including VOA and RFE/RL, are banned from television and radio in Russia.
In addition, our journalists on assignment are harassed by Russian authorities and face extensive restrictions on their work. RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena recently was sentenced by a Russian court for an article he wrote, and contributor Stanislav Asayev is being held by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine. RFE/RL journalists were knocked down and kicked while on assignment in Russia’s southern region of Krasnodar in March, and VOA correspondent Daniel Schearf has been denied a visa to re-enter Russia.
The BBG would be pleased if the current focus on reciprocity between Russian and American media ends by giving U.S. outlets – including U.S. international media such as VOA and RFE/RL – the same rights and opportunities in Russia that Russian networks have in the United States.